Giving it all away

I can’t watch the television or listen to the radio right now; the news of the shootings at VT is everywhere and I find it troubling and awfully, terribly sad.

So I will tell you about the turkeys. A flock of wild turkeys make their home on this little peninsula. They travel about from place to place, making their way up and down the roads as if they owned them. On occassion, a male will spread his tail feathers in a showy gesture, part “look at me!” and part “back off!”

This land, and the lake around the peninsula, and most of the valley to the south of us, is part of the reservation belonging to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT), so it’s an area of mixed spirituality–mostly Catholicism flavored with elements from traditional Native American beliefs.

The turkey, to many native peoples, is the Give-Away Eagle. Turkey is meant to call forth a deep and abiding recognition of the sacrifices of both the self, and of others. Turkey reminds us of our gifts–material and spiritual.

Today, the little flock of wild turkeys have found our yard. They mill and peck in the greening grass in front of the garden. As I watch them, I’m reminded of cycles, and circles. Today, I give my grief away. Today, I am thankful for life.

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15 thoughts on “Giving it all away

  1. Beautiful. Wild turkeys are an almost daily sight around our place, and I’ll never again look at them quite the same, quite so passively. Hopefully, I will linger, look, think, enjoy.

  2. Jennifer,

    Thank you for telling us about the turkeys. I can’t/won’t watch the coverage on the tragic incident, or much else on the 24-hour news networks. We weren’t meant to be bombarded with so much bad news. I do, however, pray.

  3. I’ve had a hard time with all of this. It seems so wrong to be going on with normal day stuff when so many are grieving. Your post was beautiful.

  4. Last month I alerted psychological services at my university about one of my students that was acting erratically and saying things that caused me concern. The university staff said that they couldn’t do anything unless she contacted them. To make a long story short I begged her to contact psych services, worried a lot, but she finally sought help. I keep thinking… What if I hadn’t persisted with her, what if next time I don’t see the signs? I’m not a psychologist, just a hard-working faculty member. Boy, is this sobering and so sad.

  5. Oh Jodi, the bad man drills make me anxious just reading about them. My heart aches, too. And Suz, I don’t know the answer. I’m both happy and sad to read of your new locks. Glad you are safer; sad for the world that brought the need for such safety.

  6. The kids in Canada have ‘lock down’ drills too. The kids have to hide under their desks. Things that happen in the US really do affect us up here. I’m not sure if the threat in Canada is real or imagined.

    It reminds me of my mom tellng me of having ‘drills’ during the height of the Cold War in case the bomb was dropped.

    I’m one of those moms who lets her kids run freely around the neighbourhood. Street hockey, soccer in the playground, bike riding. But last week there was a man on a bike at my daughter’s school who offered a Grade 5 girl a ride. Nothing happened – she reported it immediately to the school, who phoned the police.

    And now I have a locksmith at my house right now installing a more secure system. I hate that I spent a sleepless night in fear, making that decision.

    Is anywhere truly safe? And if not, is the solution to keep kids restricted and inside?

  7. They do have “bad-man” drills. They are called lock-downs and my son’s high school has these drills frequently. I feel that some of the anxiety my son experiences is due to all of these drills that scare him to death because he doesn’t understand. My heart aches.

  8. Oh my. Do you remember being in school and having earthquake drills, for the west coast folks, or tornado drills? I suppose the threats are from within, now. But how can you have a “bad-man” drill?

  9. For me, the notion that I could be in class, teaching, with students, all innocent, and gunned down is what has me most perplexed and saddened. Why? What happened to make this take place? And the culture of fear that surrounds these events is even worse. They had a disaster preparedness drill at my daughter’s school today. Dear lord…

  10. Jen, what you say makes perfect sense. I remember 9-11 so clearly; Tom and I spent days glued to the television. It was, truly, a time of national mourning.

    This tragedy reminds me of the Amish shooting, which feels very personal to me. There is a community of Amish near us, and we often go to their general store. I have a fascination with them, because a part of me is drawn to the idea that their life is somehow simpler, and therefore better. I suppose I’ll never know if it really is. But I was so impressed with their response, as a community, to their school shooting. If action is testimony, there’s, to me, was so powerful. Walking the walk, and all that.

  11. I watched the news yesterday and read about it online all day. But I think my reasons were doing so were this: When the 9-11 tragedy struck, I was in court all day for several days that week fighting for custody of my children. I didn’t see anything about it except brief snippets at night when I was too drained and too berieved to focus on anyone’s grief but my own. But as such, I missed a national tragedy. I still don’t really feel connected to my nation by that grief. This is harder to explain than I thought. The poet George Oppen has written about this far more eloquently than I, but I am too lazy to stand now and walk to the bedroom for his book. But there is a wonderful poem on Being Numerous.

    But I watched yesterday so I would know what was happening, so I would feel the grief, so I would feel connected to everyone else who was shocked and horrified with me. And it is so surreal to be sitting, safe for now, on my couch, listening to the chirping of the spring birds out my window, and looking at images of so much destruction. The juxtaposition is startling, and jarring.

    I stayed up late last night reading your essays. You are an amazing writer. Your essays are poetry. I hope I didn’t offend you with my crudeness in the emails for a new gig you are venturing into– that is truly the only aspect of my life that is so.

    Looking forward to reading more of you in the future.

  12. It’s weird how things can make you re-look at life and sit back and think. I had to turn off the TV, I just couldn’t take listening about VT anymore. Anyways, onto the turkeys… how cool! You should take some pictures and post them. I remember going to see my family in WVA and seeing wild turkeys.

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